Personal Data Protection in Social Sciences in Big Data Era

Predavanje at an event "Big Data: New Challenges for Law and Ethics, International scientific conference, 22 - 23 May 2017", Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia (2017)


ŠTEBE, Janez
BOLKO, Irena


The development of digital technologies fosters new types of data, research approaches and methodologies as well as significantly increased the amount of data interesting for social sciences. However, it also raises severe legal, ethical and quality issues. The Social Science Data Archives at the University of Ljubljana (Arhiv družboslovnih podatkov - ADP) is involved in the SERISS (Synergies for Europe’s research Infrastructure in the Social Sciences), international project that connects leading European research infrastructures. In one of the tasks the ADP together with project partners conducted the literature review on how social media data (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.) is already used in social scientific research and how legal and ethical challenges are discussed in the field. Based on 20 years of experience in data curation and preservation we identified questions related to different phases of the research data lifecycle. Since social media data is not created for research purposes, one of the main issues is obtaining participants’ informed consent to reuse data. Consent is no longer requested only by research ethics committees, but it will become a requirement with the implementation of the new GDPR. Although social media data is often publicly available, researchers don’t have an explicit informed consent to collect and analyse their data nor that can they link it with other sources or reuse it beyond the original purpose of data collection. As a data archive, ADP is particularly interested in finding a legal solution for data to be stored, curated and disseminated in the long term. Several questions arise, from determining data ownership to time limits for data storage and documentation, as well as to enable researchers to link data from different provenance (e.g. official statistics, social media data, historical and health data). The research community needs to recognise the gap between research interests and laws and ethics policies, and find a balance between research freedom and the protection of respondents.

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ADP is part of the Social Sciences Research Institute of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The Slovenian Research Agency provides funding of the ADP within the infrastructure program "Network of Research and Infrastructural Centres" The ADP is a member of the umbrella organization of the European Social Science Data Archives CESSDA ERIC. © ADP (ISSN 2385-9415) | 1997 - 2017 |